Where Else Have We Gone On Points?

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It’s Labor Day Weekend of 2019 and we brought in summer in a 2 bedroom villa at Copper Creek, We decided to enjoy a week by ourselves and the Food and Wine Festival by spending, you guessed it, eight nights in a studio at the Polynesian Village Resort.  Just like our first trips in 2018, we had bought annual passes to use for the trip in May and this trip and this trip was certainly memorable for several reasons.  Reason number one: It was our first trip that was completely by ourselves since our Honeymoon 6 years earlier.  Reason number two: there was a little storm called Hurricane Dorian that was quickly approaching Florida.

We arrive to DIA and when we find our gate and wait to board, the gate attendant when she announces our flight indicates that there are only around 50 people on the flight so no one better sit in a middle seat (we almost always fly Southwest)  We have a smooth flight and the airport is much calmer that we typically have experienced in the past.  After our last trip we have invested in a sealed cooler that we are able to transport all of our refrigerated and frozen goods.  As we are flying Southwest, we have another item of luggage packed with dry goods so we do not even have to go grocery shopping.  This saves us more money and is incredible convenient for us as well. 

On one of our first nights there, we go to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party because of course Halloween starts in early August now and it’s a fun event / way to experience the park with less people and trick or treating!  The one downfall of the night we chose to go…Well there is a hurricane expected to maybe may landfall later that night so no fireworks.  Fortunately that evening the hurricane elected to swing up the eastern seaboard and not make direct landfall in Florida so we are good.  That doesn’t mean however that I was awake most of the evening wondering if this is what a hurricane is.  If it was, Casper has worse wind and rain at times.

One of the biggest reasons we booked our trip when we did however is there is a little new section of Hollywood Studios called Galaxy’s Edge, Batuu, Star Wars Land that indicated that it would open “Late Fall 2019”  In typical planning fashion, Early December is technically late fall.  We wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with the opening of this new land.  Well, guess who was there for essentially opening weekend of Galaxy’s edge?  That’s right-us.  I think that it opened a week before we arrived so we were very grateful for that, but we just didn’t want to deal with the hordes of people we expected to come with the opening of this land. 

We might know where to pose for photos

Fortunately, we think that with the Hurricane that lots of people were scared off and the overall crowds surrounding the parks were fairly low.  Another experience we decided to book last minute was in Animal Kingdom, essentially a 3 stop dining and beverage experience honoring the 25th anniversary of the Lion King.  Essentially there is a train in the Harambe section of the park that at the main station, there were beverages and appetizers, you would board a train and arrive at the conservation station for more appetizers and activity stations along with a VR headset of being inside the lion enclosure and finally you would end up in the Harambe marketplace with each window offering a plethora of foods from Africa to try.  Everything was incredibly unique and so glad that we were able to try it all, even though most of it was not our favorite.

We then enter the dark times…COVID. 

Therefore we banked our points from 2020 into 2021.

We were of the mind set that we cannot allow the virus to control our life and where able, we needed to live.  Therefore, we decided what better time to make a trip to one of the potentially more expensive locals of Aulani on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.  This trip occurred almost exactly three years after our first DVC trip ever and will always I think be one of my favorites.  We again traveled by ourselves to a new location that neither of us had ever explored, low crowds due to people not wanting to / uncomfortable with traveling and we got a convertible for the week we were there for a base rate for those 8 days of something like $240. 

For this eight night vacation we stayed in a one bedroom villa even though it was just the two of us in the effort to save money on dining and we learned so much and experienced so much more than I think we ever could now due to the lower crowds of COVID and the ease of travel around the island.  We truly drove everywhere from hiking Kaena point on the northwest portion of the island all the way to Makapu’u lighthouse on the southeast portion of the island where you could see Maui.  Multiple trips to the Matsumoto Shave Ice in Hale’iwa on the north shore where we were recognized coming in earlier in the week. *we are tall and are fairly recognizable.  We stopped by numerous public beach and flew our drone around after checking the rules / laws & regulations of the area.

At the resort itself, amenities I acknowledge were limited including its signature restaurant being closed.  We did in turn schedule a dinner at Makahiki which was absolutely wonderful and it was so great to take such a leisurely pace learning all about the island.  We can’t wait to get back. 

The most recent trip we took was a “short” six nights in a one bedroom villa at Saratoga Springs.  Roughly March / April 2021, Our oldest nephew who was getting married decided that after he US ceremony as they were going to get married abroad, that we should have a party for those available at Disneyworld.  As COVID regulations were loosening, we knew it would be difficult to get a room and ended up getting the one bedroom to share with my parents who wanted to celebrate their grandson. 

This most recent trip was so immensely different than any previous trip due to the changes implemented by new management and COVID which made things less enjoyable in a lot of ways, but the company more than made up for it.  We also made sure that we did things we could to improve the experience.  We did things such as make sure we attended the overpriced After Hours Christmas party to knock out a bunch of the rides that we knew we really wanted to get on and focus our attention on spending time with the family we don’t get to see often. 

We helped and rode rides with our Great Nephews, rode the brand new Ratatouille ride in the France pavilion over in Epcot and the Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios.  We had the luxury for this most recent trip of experiencing the parks already and therefore didn’t have any MUST DO’s.  We had the luxury of time on our side to focus on our family.

So new here we are, six vacations using our points down, 45 more years of vacations to go and our membership has already paid for itself.  SO how will we use our points next?  Remember how the Dog Grandfather was not able to join us on a previous trip?  How about we take him to Hawaii and back to Aulani?  I think that sounds absolutely fantastic and I cannot wait to share what we learned last time with him for this trip.